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Microsoft introduces game hubs for PC gamers

Why it matters: Microsoft game hubs provide a way to consolidate information about PC games (at least on the Xbox side). They will soon offer some consolation to PC gamers worried that Microsoft’s push to multi-platform gaming may leave them somewhat shorted.

Microsoft is rolling out a “game hubs” feature for Windows PC users. Game hubs centralize data about different games in one spot, eliminating the need to search the internet for specific information (e.g., completion times, achievements, add-ons). For now, game hubs will only be available for Xbox Insiders on PC and select users of the Xbox app on PC.

Once users click on a game in their library, it will show helpful information such as buying, installing, or updating the game and playtime statistics. For instance, stats include how long they’ve played that specific game, an achievement summary, and a list of friends playing the same title. It will also let Game Pass subscribers know when that game is leaving the catalog so players can either finish it or take advantage of their exclusive discounted price.

In addition to seeing friends who already own the game, users can also compare their progress with them, see who is currently playing, and even send a mass party invite to everyone. That should make it more convenient to create parties for those Helldivers 2 sessions (if you can even get into the game queue).

Microsoft is also leveraging a partnership with HowLongToBeat so players can see the average completion times of any game. This feature is handy when looking for games to knock out of the backlog. I like to sort my backlog this way. Users can also compare their playtime to the community, although it doesn’t have a mechanism for uploading completion data to the site.

Finally, there is a section for developers to post the latest game announcements and updates. Users can also view any DLC or extras they may not have realized were available. Microsoft noted that future updates to game hubs would include viewing local game captures and the ability to browse games by publisher.

This renewed focus on PC gaming is a breath of fresh air for those who prefer Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem. Gaming division CEO Phil Spencer recently announced that four exclusives were headed to PS5 and Nintendo Switch, which sparked concern that Microsoft was losing focus on its platform. However, Spencer confirmed that Microsoft remained committed to Xbox hardware and promised that the next Xbox would represent the “largest technological leap” in a generation.

With the rise of handheld PC gaming, there are rumors that Microsoft is designing a portable Xbox engineered by the Surface team. Spencer signaled Microsoft’s willingness to improve the Windows experience for handheld gaming PCs, given how Windows isn’t designed with native game controller navigation.

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